WindhamCoTownshend4  

 

 

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      By an order in council passed on the 20th day of July, 1764, King George the III declared the western of Connecticut river to be the boundary line between his province of New Hampshire and New York.  This order was proclaimed by Gov. Colden of New York, on the 10th day of April, 1765; and the governor of New Hampshire by proclamation, recommended to the proprietors and settlers of the “the grants,” submission and due obedience to the authority and laws of the colony of New York.

      The proprietors of Townshend were neither alarmed nor made indignant by the transfer of jurisdiction to New York.  Management and control of their proprietary interest were little changed thereby.  Whatever opposition was made to these land-titles proved to be of a yielding nature, and they submitted to the new authority.  In due time, their New Hampshire charter was confirmed by the government of New York, in response to a petition for that purpose.  Agreeably to a colonial statute of New York, deeds and conveyances of any interest in real estate were recorded in the secretary’s office of the colony, or in the county records of the county where the real estate was situated.  This law was in force while the town remained under the jurisdiction of New York. 

      While the French and Indian war was raging, a settlement of the town was impracticable, and proceedings of proprietors were suspended during the eventful years from 1754 to 1761.  The victory of Wolfe in 1759 and the capitulation of Vaudreuil in 1760, followed by the treaties of  Fontainbleau and Paris, severed Canada and the districts east of it from the control of France.  French and Indian incursions, which had so long scourged the people of new England, were to be feared no longer.  A frontier of wide extent had been opened for settlement under the quiet and security of English rule.  Provincial soldiers discharged upon the surrender of the French in Canada, and resolute adventurers flocked hither to occupy and become owners of the land known as the Hampshire Grants.

      Settlement of the town was commenced by John Baird, Thomas Baird and Col. John Hazeltine about the first of June 1761.  Nothing was done this season, except to build a log hut and commence work upon the lots taken by the new comers.  Years ago, the following anecdote was in circulation about the first settlement of the town.  The story is given as we wrote it from the lips of an old gentlemen : 
 
 


 
      At a meeting in Massachusetts of the grantees, old Col. Hazeltine got it so fixed that the proprietor who should get here first, with the intention to settle, might have the first choice of lots which had been surveyed.  The two Bairds were present; they saw what the Colonel was up to, and mistrusted that he would be in Townshend as soon as possible, to take up the best lots.  They determined to get in ahead of him, and started for this town at close of the meeting.  Col. Hazeltine went home and passed the night.  Early in the morning he said to his wife, “I am going to Townshend.”  He was soon on his way and without an unnecessary halt, came to what is now called the Elder Hodges farm, in Newfane, where he stopped over night.  Starting in good season the next day and hurrying on, it was not late when he forded West river where the lower bridge stands.  On reaching the bank, he saw a smoke and near it found the two Bairds engaged in clearing a spot for their cabin.  Instantly comprehending the situation, the old gentleman, with a low bow and bland good-by, gave the bridle reins a jerk or two, put spurs in his horse, rode on and selected lots farther up the river.

 

      The land taken up by Col. Hazeltine in 1761, was situated in the west part of the town, where he soon afterwards built a log fort upon the meadow now owned by Deacon Pierce.  During the same season, the Bairds located their rights near the ford of West river.  Joseph Tyler of Uxbridge, and John Howe of Framingham, commenced their clearings in 1764; the former, upon the present Bridge farm near the east village; the latter, upon the Hiram Howe farm in school district No. 7.  John Burt of  Killingly, Conn., and Paul Hazeltine of Uxbridge, came in 1765.  None of the settlers remained here, however, during the winter months prior to 1766.